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AU allocates Zambia 8.7m doses of COVID-19 vaccines

ZAMBIA has been allocated 8.7million doses of COVID-19 vaccines under a facility being pioneered by the Africa Union.

Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the African Union Emmanuel Mwamba said the initiative is being done under the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), a platform which has been created to ensure that up to 60 per cent of Africa’s population were vaccinated against the Coronavirus by December 2021.

He said AVATT was created by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the chairperson of the African Union, in November 2020.

He said AVATT had been mandated to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60 per cent of Africa’s population.

Ambassador Mwamba said AVATT’s efforts were focused on securing enough, safe and efficacious vaccine doses to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the African population, estimating the funding needs for vaccine procurement and delivery and creating the financing mechanisms required to ensure all AU member states can access and receive the vaccine they need to reach a minimum of 60 per cent immunisation.

He said under the mechanism, the vaccines were being sourced from Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca.

Pfizer and Johnsons &Johnsons are among the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, while AstraZeneca PLC is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical.

He said a finance facility had been created under the AVATT- the Advance Procurement Commitment (APC) Facility to be backed by African Import and Export Bank (Afreximbank).

Ambassador Mwamba said the mechanism aims at ensuring Africa’s access to the COVID-19 vaccines from no later than April 2021, by providing assurance to identified vaccine manufacturers that vaccine orders placed through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), are firm and would be paid for as may be agreed.

He said Zambia’s allocation may rise to 25 million doses by December 2021.

He said the vaccines would obtain prior approval by AVATT on the recommendation of the Africa-CDC.

Ambassador Mwamba said the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) was briefed of the progress that has been made to ensure member states began to receive the vaccines from March- April 2021.

According to Inutu Mwanza, first secretary press and tourism at Zambia’s mission in Addis Ababa, APC aims to guarantee Africa’s access to COVID-19 vaccines in a manner that reduces the fiscal burden on member countries.

Mwanza said the mechanism would also ensure a timely, equitable and cost-effective availability of COVID-19 vaccine supplies within the continent and by so doing, mitigate the protracted financial and socio-economic costs of the COVID-19.

She said this was also to provide a credible platform around which a blend of funding can be attached to support Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement requirements.

She said the task team had provisionally secured 270 million vaccine doses for Africa for the critical period from April to December 2021.

Mwanza said the vaccine doses, which were in addition to the expected COVAX doses, would be distributed through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).

She said the candidates and related quantities were; 50 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, through the Serum Institute of India and 120 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (upon satisfactory conclusion of phase III trials).

Mwanza said Africa CDC would approve the vaccines having considered the necessary conditions, efficacy including vaccines which have been trialed in Africa and safety.

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